Carl Kahler (1856-1906, Austrian)

Sketch of Carl Kahler, cat painterCarl Kahler (1856-1906, Austrian) was born in Linz and attended the Munich Academy of Fine Arts. Kahler exhibited his works from 1881-1888, and his early paintings were successful.  Kahler moved to Australia where he produced some of his best paintings: The Lawn at Flemington on Melbourne Cup Day (1887), The Derby Day at Flemington (1888-9) and The Betting Ring at Flemington (1889). He remained in Australia until he moved to New York and San Francisco for economic reasons. In San Francisco, Kahler became interested in painting cats only after accepting a commission from  Kate Birdsall Johnson, a California millionairess.  My Wife’s Lovers, perhaps now his most famous painting, sold at Sotheby’s auction in 2015 for $862,000. View Sotheby’s video on the painting here

The title, My Wife’s Lovers, was inspired by Johnson’s deceased husband who had affectionately used the term for her cats. Kahler was to paint her 42 cats for $5,000.00, but up to this point had never painted one.  Consequently, Kahler spent three years sketching her 42 cats before starting the painting. Each cat in the painting is depicted with its own facial expression and some are caught in typical cat behaviors such as stalking a butterfly. Completed in 1893, it is known as the largest painting of cats and weighs 227lbs.  Johnson was an avid cat lover with most of her cats being Persians and Angoras. Reportedly, her favorite Persian cat, Sultan, featured in the center of the painting, was purchased for $5,000 in Paris.  All of her cats were meticulously cared for by servants.  Johnson provided for the cats’ welfare after her death, shortly after the completion of the painting, in 1893 by leaving them a bequest.

Kahler continued to paint cats until he perished at just age 51 in the San Francisco earthquake on April 18th, 1906.


My Wife's Lovers, Carl Kahler, cat painting

My Wife’s Lovers




1855-1906 Carl Kahler Buzz Off!, Cats in Art

Buzz Off!




Carl Kahler (1855-1906) Family Portrait, cats in art

Family Portrait




Carl Kahler (1855-1906), cat art




Carl Kahler, Cats on a Sofa

Cats on a Sofa




Carl Kahler, Die Weisse, The White Cat, cat art

Die Weisse, The White Cat


Carl Kahler, Peek a boo, cats in art

Peek a boo




Carl Kahler, Sultan and Red Drape, cat art

Sultan and Red Drape




Carl Kahler, Sultan, cat art





Carl Kahler, The Confrontation, cat art

The Confrontation




Carl Kahler, Tuxedo Cat

Tuxedo Cat




Carl Kahler, White Cat

White Cat




Mother and Kitten, Carl Kahler

Mother and Kitten




Detail, Mother and Kitten, Carl Kahler

Detail, Mother and Kitten




Portrait of a Young Girl with cat, Carl Kahler

Portrait of a Young Girl




White Cat on Gold Cushion, Carl Kahler

White Cat on Gold Cushion




White Kitten, Carl Kahler

White Kitten




Who's the Fairest of them All, Carl Kahler

Who’s the Fairest of them All





Want to know more about the cat in art, history and literature?  Then Revered and Reviled is the book for you. Now available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats. 


Revered and Reviled: A Complete History of the Domestic Cat, cat history, cats





Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2017 Laura Vocelle

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: